- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.

Those are the opening lines to a song known by generations of Girls Scouts. And even today, the song is often sung at Girl Scout outings.

Many more Girl Scout songs, however, are being lost to time and changing traditions. To keep some of those songs alive, a group of veteran Scouts from the 1960s gathered recently at Camp NaWaKwa near Poland in Clay County to sing and record the camp songs of their youth. This year is the 60th anniversary of the camp - which remains a summertime destination for Girl Scouts who want to camp, hike, canoe, swim, zip line, rock climb and practice archery.

Sitting in a circle inside the Conley Lodge, 16 women sang about 60 songs that will be produced on a CD available for purchase later this year. Organizer Autumn Standley, formerly of Terre Haute and now of Tennessee, said the proceeds of the CD sales will go toward an improvement project at the camp.

Some of the songs, such as “Back of the Bread” and “For Health and Strength,” were sung as grace before meals. Others, such as “Prodigal Son” and “Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace),” were sung in rounds, while others such as “Golden Sun” and “Heaven is Here at NaWaKwa” are good ol’ fashioned campfire and hiking songs that celebrate friendship, loyalty, honesty, nature, courage, respect and living the law of the true Girl Scout, as the saying goes.

Many of the women gathered Saturday noted that they spent “10 critical years of adolescence” summering at the camp - first as campers and then later by spending 10 weeks as counselors for younger girls.

“In the tradition of ‘tough cookies,’ we’ve all gone on to leadership roles,” Jan Strohl of Indianapolis told the Tribune-Star (https://bit.ly/1nwPtpx ). Occupations listed by the reunion group fall into education, ministry, social work, local government and psychology.

Mary Drouillard of Novi, Michigan, said singing was an important part of camp experience. It’s where many girls learned to sing harmony.

They also learned to “wonder” at the world around them, and camp focused on creativity and character more than appearance, because they were all wearing the same color camp shirts and had their hair protected by bandanas to ward off insects and hide “bad hair days.”

“Something that connects us is these songs,” said Teddy Lenderman of Terre Haute. “We may forget where we put our keys today, but we still remember the verses from these songs.”

The women have been gathering for reunions at camp since the early 1990s, and this particular group gets together about every two years. They travel from Mississippi, Georgia, New York, Iowa, Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana - though now they stay in the air-conditioned Hise-Clark Program Center rather than in the tents and camps at the camp sites.

The camp has changed a lot through the years. The women recall that there was no modern pool at the camp, so they learned to swim in Stantz Lake, which is now used just for canoeing and fishing. They also rode horses at a location just down the road. And they hiked and learned survival skills such as lighting fires, making shelter and campfire cooking.

Girl Scouting has changed a lot through the decades, from the time it was founded in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia, by Juliette Gordon Low to give girls the opportunity to develop physically, mentally and spiritually by bringing them out of isolated home environments and into community service and the open air.

Anyone wanting to get involved in Girl Scouting can go online to www.girlscoutsindiana.org for the website of Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.


Information from: Tribune-Star, https://www.tribstar.com

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